Plasma unconjugated estrone (E1), estradiol-17β (E2) and estriol (E3), and HCS were measured in the same plasma samples collected throughout pregnancy in 19 gestational diabetics (GD) and 21 diabetics (D). When compared to the results obtained in 22 normal subjects, plasma levels of E1 and E2 were significantly elevated in D in the second half of gestation. The results were intemediate although closer to the normals, in GD. E3 values were not different from the normals in both D and GD. HCS values were lower than normal in early pregnancy in both D and GD. In late pregnancy HCS levels were not different from normal in either D or GD, although some individual values were much above the upper limit in some diabetic patients. The hormonal ratios in D and GD parallel those in normals, although E3/E2 and HCS/E2 were lower in D. These results are discussed with respect to the different behaviour of E2 and E3, taking into account the difference in their respective biosynthetic pathways. Besides a possible quantitative modification of the placental function in D, the results could tentatively be explained by a qualitative change in the fetal estrogen precursors to placental aromatization, in favour of the 16-non-hydroxylated compound. However, maternal modifications in precursor production or in estrogen metabolism can be an alternative hypothesis. Finally, the present work does not support the hypothetical estrogen deficiency in diabetic pregnancy. Estrogen treatment appears to have no objective justification.